Coast Guard completes investigation into Costa & Corvo sinking

BOSTON — The Coast Guard announced Friday the results of an investigation into the Nov. 13, 2008, sinking of the fishing vessel Costa & Corvo in which a New Bedford, Mass., fisherman lost his life.

Coast Guard marine casualty investigators have determined available evidence indicates several factors affected the stability of the Costa & Corvo and that instability contributed to the capsizing and subsequent sinking of the fishing vessel.

“The results of the investigation indicate that the vessel capsized and sank quickly,” said Capt. Ray Perry, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. “Although we may never know exactly what happened, the available evidence suggests the vessel capsized due to several factors. It appears the vessel became rapidly unstable as a full fishing net was lowered on deck. The shifting weight of the catch, excessive water on deck, and closed freeing ports all seem to have contributed to the capsize.”

Coast Guard crews searched for Antonio Mesquita from New Bedford, Mass., the captain of the Costa & Corvo, for more than 30 hours and covered more than 280 square miles, but never found him.

Three crew members, Francisco Brito, Joao Matias and Jorge Palma, all from New Bedford, were also aboard the Costa & Corvo when it capsized. They were rescued by a nearby fishing vessel, the Mary K, shortly after the accident.

Crew testimony was used to help determine the probable cause of the accident, as well as underwater images taken by the Navy Undersea Warfare Center of what is believed to be the fishing vessel Costa & Corvo resting on the ocean floor.

The Costa & Corvo, a 71-foot dragger, sank about 118 miles east of Nantucket on Georges Bank and currently rests in 120 feet of water.

“Our condolences go out to the family of Mr. Mesquita, who lost his life in this tragedy,” said Perry. “We hope the results of this investigation raise awareness of what can cause a vessel to become dangerously unstable and help improve the safety of our fishing community.”

The investigation report is available here.

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